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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Working with a young blood tracking dog

John Gereau is Managing Editor for Denton Publications, and he is based in Westport, NY. You can read about him and his wirehaired dachshund Cedar here.

Cedar was born in June 2008 so she is still a very young dog. She was bred by Dale Clifford, and is out of "Sabrina" (Jessie von Moosbach-Zuzelek) and a wirehaired male imported from Poland Henri Anons.

John wrote in his recent e-mail: "After half a dozen unsuccessful calls & much encouragement from Dale Clifford out in Hamburg, we located our first deer Oct. 16 and then another small deer that had been gut shot with a muzzleloader on Oct. 22."

John Gereau and Cedar - a tracking team from the Adirondacks

The correspondence that we get from new handlers shows how easy it is to get discouraged when you start with a young pup. Some deer are not mortally wounded and even the most talented and experienced dog is not going to recover them. Don't evaluate your dog by the number of recoveries but by the effort and quality of her work. Blood tracking dogs get better with maturity and experience, and what you see in their first or second tracking season is just a glimpse of their potential. Be patient.

We discussed this topic on our borntotrack yahoo group and this is what Kevin Armstrong from Deer Search wrote to a new handler with young pup:

My experience with hunting dogs boils down to one simple principal: If you want a good hunting dog hunt him a lot. You can bet that a 6 month old pup who has not found a deer yet is going to screw up. She will screw up quite a bit the first year or two.You'll have to get used to it and not let it bother you too much. Do as you are doing. Try to learn from the experience. My experience with these Billy/Gilda bitches is that they are hard headed and self willed. The night time woods is full of wonderful scent of all kinds of creatures that she would like to meet. Finding deer by following the body and blood scent may have not even clicked in her head yet. She wants to follow the coon scent and the skunk scent and the healthy deer scent. That is the most natural thing in the world. Be happy that she wants to follow scent. You know she is following animal scent by the way she is pulling you. You know that the fake blood trail is just an exercise with her by the way she does not pull like that on a training line. She is just like my dog. Karma could care less about an artificial line. She will follow it because she knows I want her to but her little heart is just not in it. On a real deer trail she pulls as you so aptly put it "like a plow horse". Don't worry, it will click but it will take some time.

I whole heartily agree that she needs trails with dead deer at the end. I grill the hunter mercilessly before I take a call. I only take calls where I feel there is a fair chance to find a dead deer or where the hunter is so sick from wounding a deer that I follow the deer till I (we) jump it and the hunter can see that he (she) has not damaged the deer very much. In Deer Search we send new dogs and new handlers out on any call that comes up just so they can get experience. It is a good thing. After a dozen trails or so and the new handler becomes certified he can pick and choose his trails as he sees fit. As a result Karma did not get a recovery until the third trail she took. Even though she was with an experienced tracking dog, a Master Handler, and a couple of highly experienced deer hunters we still did not get the 16 hour old trail of a gut shot buck figured out until the second restart. After that she had a couple of set-up kills and a few more trails with unrecovered deer until at 7 months old she made her first solo find. Payday!

In theory this work is a piece of cake. We take the dog to a few drops of blood and expect it to lead us over hill and dale to a dead deer. Fact is that it is never anywhere near that easy. Even a seeming slam dunk is rarely a slam dunk. It is really hard work to recover several deer in a season. Really hard!

I advise that at the first opportunity to get her some set-up kills that you take her out to them. When she finds the deer let her maul the deer till she works herself into a frenzy and you can hardly pull her off. Hold her back but let her stay with her prize while the deer is being dresses and pulled out of the woods. Tell her what a good girl she is. Make sure she knows that this is what you want her to do. She will take it from there.

Bottom line is you have an inexperienced puppy who doesn't yet know what her role in life is. She needs experience, the more the better, and the handler needs patience, the more the better. With ample experience and patience you two are going to be a great tracking team before you know it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A blood trail that ended with a gut pile

Yesterday we drove to Delanson, NY to track a buck for a hunter who hunted on the property, which is familiar to us. This is where Sabina recovered a wounded deer three years ago. The place is loaded with coyotes, and we have noticed three or four of them in the field on our way there.

We were greeted by Chuck (hunter) and his friend Don. It was a beautiful day - sunny, warm with the temperature in the low 60s.

Chuck and Don followed a very sparse blood trail for 1/4 mile. The hunter thought that the buck was liver hit, and we decided to use both dogs Billy and Joeri.

This time I decided to use our GPS and brought along a camera as well. The cover was incredibly thick with shrubs and wild grapevine, difficult to penetrate, and we put dogs on the last blood that hunters could find the night before. It was a difficult start and dogs made two small loops without finding more blood. Joeri was searching very well, and I decided to re-start him. This time he veered a bit to the right where we found "new" blood! I asked Don who was behind me to mark it with orange biodegradable tape. Joeri started to pull strongly, and I knew that now he was locked on the deer. John and I decided that I and Joeri should proceed in the lead. We tracked at a steady pace for almost two hours. We knew that we were tracking the right deer as occasional drops of blood confirmed the trail. This was not a liver hit deer. The blood was bright red, and we also found quite a few smears on a waist-high grass. This deer never bedded and was not getting any weaker. Finally after 1.6 miles (according to the GPS) Don and I decided to terminate the track.

Joeri did an incredible job on this 15 hour old trail. He checked himself two or three times but basically he was on the blood line for its entire length. He is very easy to handle as he does not pull too strongly. He is also easy to read when he loses the trail and frantically wants to recover it. He also proved to be very responsive. There were times that we had to crawl on our knees and elbows, and at one time I dropped the leash. Joeri was moving ahead, but when I called him, he stopped and waited for me to catch up.

It was a difficult decision to terminate the track because Joeri was still tracking the deer and we were seeing occasional droplets. He really wanted to continue, and when I stopped him he whined with frustration. I tried to reassure him that he did a great job but we tracked "enough". Little we knew what was waiting ahead.

The pictures show blood droplets on the leaves when we terminated the track.

Don and I were a long way from our cars, and we had to find our way back. Chuck and John with Billy decided not to follow us half-way through as the cover was so thick and Joeri was doing a great tracking job by himself. No more than 30 yards from where I had picked Joeri up, we stumbled upon a gut pile. Could it have been from the deer that we tracked? Possibly but not likely. The pile was not hot fresh, probably several hours old, and Joeri was not that interested in it. We felt that we were pushing "our" deer ahead.

Anyway, Joeri and I had a great time tracking, and hunters were very appreciative of what we have done. Their deer either is going to live or it ended up shot by another hunter. We will never know for sure.

Jolanta with Joeri

Kevin and Karma - Deer Search at its best

Gunn, Kevin Armstrong & and his wirehaired dachshund Karma pose with Karma's first recovery of 2009 and with Gunn's first DSI recovery. Kevin and Karma took seven trails this week until we finally got a reward for our efforts. Eventually they jumped all the deer on the other six trails. Only one of them seemed to have a serious wound. They all earned this one!

Below is the second recovery of the season celebrated by Karma and her sister Effie.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Trust your dog?

posted by John Jeanneney

I like these stories about the good things that happen when you trust your dog. Almost always I will take my dog’s opinion about where the deer went before I blindly trust a hunter. I still don’t understand how hunters can be wrong so often. You have to be diplomatic and let the dog, not you as handler, point out his mistake.

But even dogs have their limitations; even a dog can make a mistake, and this is especially true for young dogs. Don’t blindly trust your dog for 100s of yards; keep looking for that speck of blood to confirm your trust. And read your dog.

I remember when Sabina tracked a bear from the hit site for a half mile. Then she gave me a look that said, “This isn’t the right bear.” We went back to the hit sight and this time she took a line in another direction….to the right bear.

Chris Barr from Indiana send us this report from his last deer call. He is tracking with Gerti (Gwen von Moosbach-Zuzelek), a six and a half month old daughter of Billy and Gilda.

"Saturday night we finally got the call we'd been waiting for. The hunter, a good buddy, was sure he had a double lung on a broad side deer 15 yds away. Shooting from a tree stand the hunter was sure entry was high on right side and anticipated exit low on left side. We gave the deer almost 3 hours before getting to the hit site. The deer took off to the south in standing corn after the shot. The only blood was about elbow high on corn leaves on the right side of the row. We found about 10 inches of the fletched end of the arrow shaft at the hit site.

Gerti and I took off on the track with her pulling hard. We went about 220 yards when the deer left the row and we lost the blood. The hunter was "100% sure" that he heard the deer go to the right towards the middle of the field while he was still on stand after the shot. We marked the point of loss and the 2 hunters started fanning the rows to the right. I backed Gerti up 20 yards or so on the known track and let her go again. This time at the point of loss she turned hard left and headed out of the corn. Did I mention that the hunter had said that he was "100% sure" that he'd heard the deer make a right turn?

Anyway, Gerti was pulling as hard as ever when I found a drop of blood on a corn leaf as we were leaving the field. When I found a spot of blood on the leaves about 10 yards into the woods I called the hunters over. This was the last visible blood. Gerti took us another 50 or so yards into the woods right to the deer.You can imagine my excitement. Some things I was happy about first of all was that the only visible blood in the corn was about 3 feet above Gerti's head. As we found out later, there was no exit hole!!! Surely there was some blood on the ground but you couldn't see it so I give Gerti some props for that.

Second, Gerti took the track the polar opposite direction out of the corn than the hunter swore he heard the deer run. This point I must gloat about for a second. My buddy was afraid that Gerti was destroying evidence at the point of loss by winding up the corn leaves with her leash. The second time he voiced his disapproval over this it kind of ticked me off which is why I picked her up and backed up the known line and re-started her. He's a very accomplished hunter but he lacks much confidence in Gerti, at least before tonight. I'm not sure what puzzled him more, the fact that he was wrong, or that Gerti was right?? He'll never tell.I feel that we'd have found this deer eventually without a dog but Gerti definitely found it first and much more quickly than we would have, so I'm calling it a find.

Chris Barr with Gerti and a doe she found

Don Dickerson from Michigan shared another story along the theme "trust your dog". Don is tracking with Gerti's brother, Gunther.

"I got a call from a good friend on Tuesday morning. He had hit what he described as a very nice big buck at 8 am Tuesday morning. The shot was 35 yards with a crossbow. He thought he had hit the deer to far back, no lungs but also had what he described as a lot of dark blood and was almost sure had hit the liver. He tracked the blood for 300 yards before losing it and called me.

I wanted to get tracking right away because the weather was suppose to get dry, hot and windy, not good tracking weather at all. I left the office and drove home and picked up Gunther (6 1/2 mo Billy/Gilda pup). Gunther picked up the blood trail right away and tracked the first 300 yards right to the spot where the blood trial was lost by the hunter. My buddy was amazed at how fast Gunther and I got there, he said it took him and another guy 45 minutes to track what Gunther did in about 10 minutes.

There where no bubbles in the blood, the blood was fairly dark and there was a fair amount of blood, but it tapered off quickly after the first 300 yards. I was convinced and convinced my buddy that it was not a liver shoot, the deer just went to far for it to be hit in the liver. Gunther veered to the North across a short grass open field, not on a deer trail, although there were several trails crossing at the last blood sight. All of the heavy cover was to the South of the last blood. We were all convinced that the deer had to have gone to the South towards the heavy cover and not crossed the open field where Gunther was taking us. But I allowed him to go that way about 100 yards or so past a small bush, right up to 3 coyote dens! At that point I was convinced that he was on the coyote track and not the deer, having seen no blood and not being on a deer trail, so I pulled him off the line and took him back to last blood at the 300 yard mark and started him again, only to have him take the same line right past the bush right up to the coyote dens again.

At this point, thinking we were all smarter than the dogs nose, I took Gunther down into the South swamp, after finding nothing after an or so search I took him back to the 300 yard mark and he again took the line to the small bush right by the coyote dens.....and low and behold this time we found a small drop of blood on a piece of grass next to the bush right by the coyote dens! Guess what? We were wrong and Gunther's nose was right! "Trust your your your dog" I have read it over and over in John's book and on these I my dog. I let Gunther continue on the line up a hill down a deer trail and guess what? More blood about 200 yards further, Gunther was right on.

To make a long story short, Gunther tracked the buck over 1/2 mile, and the buck did eventually go to a swamp and near a creek. We lost all sight of blood and after about 5 1/2 hours of tracking at 3 pm, after looking in all the swamps and bedding areas, the weather now hot, dry and windy, we called the search but also now convinced that the buck was not mortally wounded. I at one point found a fair amount of muscle tissue, I am convinced the shot was high on the deer, likely not hitting any vitals. John says"...the next best thing to not finding a hunter's deer is being able to assure him/her that the deer is alive and will likely live". Thus, although we did not find the buck, the hunter was happy to know it was still alive, Gunther got a lot of valuable tracking time and he never gave up and I learned a valuable lesson....TRUST YOUR DOG!!!!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

No deer at the trail end but a good learning experience for Joeri

We took this deer call last Tuesday, on October 20. Dick F. shot a six point buck on Monday morning and spent all day following and marking a sparse blood trail. He called us on Monday afternoon but John was already out on his second call of the day. Unfortunately there was nobody else available. It was a long drive for us as West Sand Lake is 50 miles from where we live.

By the time we got there the blood trail was 26 hours old; the day was dry and cloudy, around 50F. The hunter managed to track the deer for around 1000 yards. He thought that the deer was chest shot.

John took Joeri on this call, and I went with them to take some pictures. Below is a pictorial report documenting the track.

Above - when walking up to the hit site Joeri is always on a regular leash. The tracking collar and leash are put on the dog when he is supposed to start tracking.

Above - the tree stand from which Dick arrowed the buck.
Below - the ground in these hardwoods was covered with dry leaves and spotting blood on the red speckled leaves was a challenge.

Below - Dick did absolutely an outstanding job when he marked the trail with orange biodegradable tape.

Above - at the hit site John puts a tracking collar on Joeri.

Joeri followed the marked trail very well, and we could see some blood throughout the trail. The blood was dry as this trail was old.

Joeri is a careful tracker whose tracking speed is just right - not too fast and not too slow. This was a very difficult track for him, and we could see it by watching his body language.

There were several spots with more blood as shown on the picture below.
It took Joeri 45 minutes to get through first 1000 yards of the trail that was marked. This was a good training experience for Joeri. When the blood stopped, Joeri took us down the hill across the road onto a new property whose owners Dick did not know.

When we picked up Joeri 200 yards after the last blood, we did not know whether Joeri was on the right trail or not as we could not verify it. There was no blood, no beds and no other sign of the wounded buck.
It took us at least 30 minutes to get back to Dick's cabin. It is always disappointing when a wounded deer is not recovered. John wrote on his tracking report: "I doubt that a mortally wounded, chest-shot deer could have gone this far".

We enjoyed the time we spent with Dick, who is a very interesting person (and a very conscientious hunter). This is always an extra bonus when you track for other hunters. You get to meet people from all walks of life, and there is an element of adventure involved.

Tracking season starts well for Cabela, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

We got this picture and e-mail from a friend of ours Joe Burns from Ravena, who is also a member of Deer Search. He tracks with his young Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Cabela.

This is a picture of the deer I shot on Saturday afternoon at 4:45 pm. After the shot the deer took off and because it is so thick, I didn't know which way it ran. After 15 minutes I got out of the tree stand and checked for my arrow. No arrow and no visible blood. At that point with it starting to get dark I called Teri to bring out Cabela. At 6:15 pm I brought Cabela to the hit sight, the first thing she did was locate my arrow which was a clean pass through. After I put a tracking collar on her, she went to the left through the thick brush. In my mind as the hunter I thought for sure the deer went to the right. Always trust your dog immediately came to mind only because I heard you say it enough times. I had no visible blood for about 50 yards when Cabela came across a few drops. Then we had no blood until another 50 Yards where it started to become steady. Cabela with her nose to the ground pointed out the five point buck laying dead at the bottom of the hill. I was more excited that Cabela found the deer then I was shooting it.
What would have taken me hours to find only took her about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Joeri discovers himself as a blood tracker

Yesterday was a great day for Joeri, who discovered himself as a blood tracker. It was a great day for us too as this young dog is everything we have ever looked for in a working dachshund. Had we had a bottle of champagne in the house we would have opened it and celebrated. Well, we were too tired to do it anyway, but we both agreed - Joeri is the best dachshund that we have ever imported.

John does not like to brag about our dogs so reluctantly he wrote this short report:

"Joeri began his day in the Albany Pine Bush, a preserve of undeveloped land that runs east to west through the heart of the suburban Capital District. The deer had been hit late the previous afternoon, and the hunter was not sure of his shot placement; he had lost the blood trail quickly. It was a challenging line that had 100 yards stretches without visible blood. Joeri, with Jolanta handling, was right on for almost a half mile as occasional drops of blood confirmed. In thick cover Joeri jumped the deer, which seemed to be fine. We walked back along a suburban street to our parked cars. The hunter was relieved to know that the deer is going to be fine.

Jolanta, Joeri and Jason (hunter)

The afternoon track was a bit more exciting. Joeri had done so well in the morning that there seemed to be no need for Billy as a back-up dog this time. I went alone with Joeri to meet the hunter on his 300 acre forest property in nearby Westerlo. This was not suburbia! Now we were working a very sparse, seven hour line blood line. The hunter had done an exceptional job that morning, eye-tracking more than a quarter of a mile, but he had lost the trail where the buck had crossed a creek onto an island.

From the hit site Joeri worked the unmarked trail smoothly, even though the blood was dried up now and very difficult for us to see on the red spotted maple leaves; the real challenge began at the point of loss on the bank opposite the island. Beyond that point we could find absolutely no blood. Joeri crossed the creek to the island, worked across it to the other side and then crossed water again. He tracked down along the far bank and finally hooked back onto the island at its lower end. The cover was thick here, but when Joeri’s nose went straight up in the air, I knew we had the deer. He was a big, nine point buck, dead but still warm. Joeri was very proud, but I was even prouder."

Joeri on the top of the 9 pointer he recovered.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Buster and Danika - like father, like daughter

On October 12-15, 2009 I attended two field trials held at Swatara Beagle Club in Elizabethtown, PA. The trials were associated with the Dachshund Club of America 2009. I'll write more about the trials over the next few days but today I'd like to focus my post on just two dachshunds: Danika and Buster.

FC Danika vom Nordlicht, TD SE is owned and handled at all events by Cheri Faust from Madison, WI. Danika is 3.5 years old, and she was bred by Larry Gohlke. Her dam is FC Fredrika von Moosbach-Zuzelek and her sire is FC Clown vom Talsdeich aka Buster.

Danika was entered in one trial only in a class of 37 Field Champion bitches. She won that class and then beat her sire, who was 1st out of 38 Field Champion dogs. This way Danika became Absolute Winner of the Metropolitan Washington Dachshund Club Trial on October 13.

Above - Cheri Faust and Danika

Danika getting a beautiful rosette for winning the FC Bitches stake. Judges - Sandy Horskin (left) and Carrie Hamilton (right).

Danika as Absolute Winner at the trial with 136 entries

Danika being held by Susanne Hamilton

Susanne Hamilton with Buster (Danika's sire) and Cheri Faust with Danika

On October 14 at the Dachshund Club of America National Field Trial Buster repeated his win from the previous day and was 1st in the FC Dogs stake (34 entries). Next day he also won the Best of Field Champions run, defeated a winner of the Open stakes, and this way he became Absolute Winner of the National Trial (135 entries). Buster won a national trial before - in 2006 in Georgia. More info on Buster is at

Susanne and Buster

Susanne, Buster and four judges: Jean Dieden, John Merriman, Robert Schwalbe and Jerry Price.

It took many hours for Susanne to drive home, from Pennsylvania to Maine. When she got home late that night, her phone rang and as it turned out a hunter needed Buster to track a wounded deer. Susanne and Buster went on a call, and were successful at recovering a nice 9 pointer.

Danika and Buster are examples of great versatile teckels in the European tradition.

Congratulations to Cheri and Susanne!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Joeri's first deer; Billy's first deer of the season

posted by John Jeanneney

Yesterday was a good opening day for us. Jolanta went with me on the two calls so we were able to handle two tracking dogs, Joeri and Billy.

The first call was ideal for young Joeri as an introduction to the real thing. It was a stomach shot that went about 150 yards. This line was about 5 hours old. The hunter was afraid that if he pushed the deer he might lose it, so he wanted to get a tracking dog on the line.

Joeri, with Jolanta handling, had little difficulty tracking the sparse but visible blood trail across a brook and through some thick cover until he found the deer dead. Joeri thought that that the deer was much more exciting than that old deer skin at the end of the line.

Jolanta with Joeri
The second deer, a big 7 pointer, was much more challenging.
Joeri started again with patient Billy acting as back-up dog. Although the pass-through shot proved to be almost perfect for placement, there was very little external blood on the ground.
Joeri did well on this older, much more difficult line, but after about 250 yards he missed where the buck had changed direction and had gone up hill.

Billy, tracking along behind, recognized Joeri’s mistake and followed the correct scent line up the hill. Then I saw a drop of blood. Billy and I made another turn and in 25 yards there was the big deer dead.

It was old stuff for Billy, but Joeri tracking along behind thought that this was just amazing. The two dogs shared “their” deer with only a few minor growls.

The hunter went wild with joy, hugged me and kissed Jolanta on both cheeks.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Joe and Doc - a tracking team from Indiana; a vest for a blood tracking dog

The picture of Doc and Carl came from Joe Walters from Indiana, who wrote:

The tracking was excellent. After last blood nothing for about 75 yds. He went past the deer on the down wind side by about 10 yds and raised his head to wind it and circled back to it. Chewed on the tail. And after hunter gutted it out, I gave Doc a piece of liver and he chewed on it for a second and spit it out and started barking and wanting back on the deer. If you can't find Doc in the pic, look for his red harness.

Just few days later I talked to Susanne Hamilton who was on her way back from a weekend of blood tracking in Vermont. Susanne and Buster recovered two deer out of four, but what she raved most about was Buster's harness. Two of their calls were in a swamp, and in situations like this she finds this harness/vest invaluable. Actually, Susanne was the first who started to use this particular type of vest, and since then other handlers have started to use it too. The DiPietro family from Vermont swears by it. The picture below show Chris DiPietro handling Scout at the August workshop in NH, and Scout is sporting the red vest.

This particular harness/vest is carried by Ruffwear and more info and pics are posted here.

Handlers who use the vest for their dogs point out the advantages:

- ease of pulling the dog out of swamp or river thanks to the handle mounted on the top
- when a dogs pulls a lot, there is no pressure exerted on his windpipe as it is the case with a collar
- a dog's chest is somewhat protected from getting scratched and cut; as Susanne says: the soft underbelly flannel somehow keeps Buster from having his entire belly scratched up.

I am looking forward to hearing Andy Bensing's review of the custom made vest he ordered from Wild Boar USA/Ugly Dog Ranch store. One of his dogs has a pretty thin hair and gets all torn up on the chest, sides and belly when she squeezes through the briars. I think that his vest might provide a better protection from scratches than the Ruffwear harness.

Joe Walters sent me this e-mail after he had seen the post about the Ruffwear vest:
I was tracking a gut shot deer for a hunter the other morning and the track ended at a ditch. It only had about three or four inches of water in it so I picked Doc up by his harness and proceeded across. Under the water was about three feet of black muck and I went in over my "frog legs", chaps over knee boots. Doc came out unscaithed, but I came out smelling pretty awful and very wet. Oh, the joys of tracking. I love it. Joe and Doc

Susanne Hamilton added:

With all the tracking I've done, I have not had a single issue with injuries to the skin at all, (amazing enough no scratches whatsoever). The thing that's most valuable is the handle... heck I pick Buster up by it all the time. The other good thing is that the actual clip where I use the leash seems just in the right place to relieve stress of the dogs back.
Buster has been less tired and less sore since using the ruffwear harness. Sometimes too much harness can cause rubbing, so until the new vest is proven and put through the ringer, like the ruffwear one has, and by several trackers, I think it's not really right to say that Andy's vest is going to be even better.

It looks like handlers love the Ruffwear harness/vest.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

How to locate blood tracking dogs that can help hunters recover their wounded deer

A deer hunting season has already opened in some states, and every day we get phone calls from hunters who would like to locate a blood tracking dog that could help them find their wounded big game.

If you are looking for tracking services, the United Blood Trackers website can help you. Go to, click on your state, you will see a list of available trackers. First, however, you should first learn whether tracking wounded big game with dogs is legal where you hunt. Regulations are controlled by state, and vary a lot from one state to another. Now this activity, which many view as a very integral part of ethical hunting, has been legalized in 18 states where any use of dogs in deer hunting, including the recovery of wounded deer, was previously illegal. State regulations can be checked at the United Blood Trackers’ website at

If you live in New York state, calling Deer Search is your best option. This volunteer-based organization was formed in 1977, and currently has three chapters. For tracking services call:
- the mid-Hudson Valley area call (845) 227-5099
- Western part of New York state (716) 648-4355
- Finger Lakes Region (585) 935-5220
In the Capital District the number is (518) 872-1779.

In New York state only trackers licensed by Department of Environmental Conservation can track wounded game with leashed dogs. If there is no Deer Search tracker in your area, call your local conservation officer as he might know of local tracking services. Not all licensed handlers are members of Deer Search.

If you are looking for tracking services in Texas, go to

Georgia has a published list of trackers at

Some blood trackers have personal websites and blogs describing their services:
I'll close this post with a good story from Steve about his young dachshund Ruby:

Earlier in the season I took Ruby out to track a deer that I had shot, and had seen go down in about 50 yards. She did great, but I have been looking forward to take her out on a trail where I didn't know where the deer was.

I am in an area where most of the hunting opportunities take place in very populated suburban areas, where the homeowners are desperate to reduce the population. This evening I shot a button buck about 15 minutes before dark. The shot looked a little high, but good. The deer ran across the road, and I lost sight of it as it crossed a large lawn. There was no problem finding the blood on the road, but about twenty yards onto the lawn, I couldn't advance the trail at all. After about an hour of searching all of the trails along the edge of the woods, and the landscaped beds around the houses, I made no progress.

The wind was absolutely howling, and I wasn't sure the dogs could pick up the scent on the open lawn, but it seemed like a good opportunity to get Ruby out on a challenging track. I took her to the last blood, and after a minute or two of working it out, she seemed sure of herself, and lead me to a small island of very thick cover, about twenty five feet across, in the middle of the lawn.

I had already searched it thoroughly while looking for blood earlier, and found nothing, but she seemed sure. She disappeared into the brush, and I got down on my knees and shined the light in to see her on the deer. It had apparently taken a final leap, and buried itself in the impenetrable thicket. There were no trails leading into it, and no visible blood on the brush where it jumped in. I was ecstatic.

The deer was not visible at all from the lawn, and had she not found it, I would have spent hours tomorrow searching the woods, sure that it had gone there. She saved all the time and anguish, and I couldn't be prouder.

Just goes to show that the trail doesn't have to be long, or the hit bad, to make recovery difficult, and a tracking dog a huge help!

Ruby with the deer she recovered.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Training young or inexperienced tracking dog on natural blood lines

Recently our borntotrack discussion forum had a very good discussion about how to train and track with a young dog in her first tracking season.

Andy Bensing said: I think the best natural line for a young dog is a line that has been eyeball tracked and marked first, then bring the dog in and you can run that natural line like a training line to the dog’s best benefit. Of course if the deer has already been found, having the whole deer at the end or if running the next day, the deer skin there is terrific. I have used natural lines where the deer was not recovered as good training lines also. To do this I mark the line before I bring out the young dog and I place a deer skin at the last know point of the line. To try and keep it real, I have also rubbed the “find” skin with some of the blood taken from leaves along the way if there was enough to make that work.

Few days later Don D. from Michigan who is starting to track with a six-month-old Gunther (a Billy/Gilda puppy) shared his recent experience. It was a perfect learning opportunity.

I have attached some pictures of Gunther's first find. I will confess it was a controlled find, but none the less it was a great learning experience for him. October 1 was opening day here in Michigan for bow season. My brother Bart and I had a goal of shooting a doe and setting up a live track for Gunther. It worked out perfect. Bart shot the the doe in the pictures at about 9 am. We let her go for several hours and then tracked her making sure to stay well off the line. We found her about 200 yards away, she traveled through varying terrain and ended up in a swamp on our leased land.The blood trail was consistent so it was a perfect set up for Gunther. I put him on the track about 5 hours after the shot. The conditions were warm, dry and breezy. We were unable to find his arrow during our dog less track, but Gunther found it for us about 40 yards into the track. He did very well, stayed on the line. Did get off it twice, but found his way by circling back and picking it up on his own. He did lose it in the high weeds in the swamp, the blood was high on the reeds and I think it was above him. Which makes me think he is tracking the blood smell much more than the deer smell at this point in his young career. Once he got back on the line he found the doe in the swamp. At first he was not sure what to do. He looked at me with a look like............"now what do I do?" ......but once he saw our excitement over his find he tore into the doe. He tried to drag it, tugged on it, licked the blood and became very excited. when we tried to move him off it he growled a bit as if to say " this is mine!!" I let him watch the entire process of gutting the deer as he wined and tried to get closer. In the end he got a nice piece of liver and a leg to chew on for awhile. Very good experience for both of us, learned a lot. Very pleased with my little partner.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Another wounded moose recovered by Theo

This morning e-mail brought this picture with this caption: "A big bull moose found by Theo near New Brunswick. We got back to Mont Carmel at 5 AM!" Readers of this blog know that John is in Quebec and he has been staying with his friend Alain Ridel. I am sure that more info about this call will come but in the meantime trackers have to get some well deserved sleep.